Maybe you all know this already (in which case why did nobody tell me?). But for the unenlightened, I have a recent discovery which I’m excited to share with you. If you have an irrational fear of birds, this post may not be for you. However for anyone else interested in finding beautiful art for their walls on a tight budget, I have found the most amazing prints for download, absolutely free!
John James Audubon
John James Audubon was an American ornithologist and artist. His most famous work, a colour-plate book Birds of America, was printed between 1827 and 1838. It contains 435 life-sized watercolours of North American birds and is considered to be among the finest wildlife illustration ever produced.
Nearly 200 years later, the stunning Audubon prints are accessible to all of us, courtesy of the John James Audubon Centre, whose mission is to educate and inspire people to cherish and protect the natural world.
Birds of America
Each print from Audubon’s Birds of America is available as a free high-resolution download. While the illustrations were of huge educational value in their time, they are also exquisite art works. Their vivid colours and interesting composition lend them an eye catching, fresh and contemporary look. They also chime with the current interiors trend for celebrating nature in the home, making them a stylish addition to any interior.
Here are just a few of my favourites.
(Notice that I didn’t even get past B in the A-Z! There are so many stunning images to choose from, you really need to check them out to find your own favourites.)
Download and Print
I’ve been on the hunt for affordable art for some empty expanses of wall in my newly decorated hall. I had picked up a large frame at a charity shop for just a few pounds and was looking for a print to fill it. As with many vintage frames it’s non-metric sizing made it difficult to source a print to fit. Meantime I had fallen a bit in love with an Audubon image I spotted on Pinterest and a bit of online digging led me to the Audubon website.
One of advantages of downloading and self printing art is the ability to have it scaled to fit frames you already have, making it a truly cost effective way to get art onto your walls. I downloaded my Audubon print onto a memory stick and my local print shop was able to scale it to my exact requirements. My large print (76cm x 64cm) on quality matt paper cost just £12. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. In fact I love it so much it hasn’t landed in the hall as intended, but in the living room instead where I can enjoy it at leisure.
The Louisiana Heron (above): the print I chose.
Each Audubon download is sufficiently high resolution that it will stand to be enlarged to make a hugely impactful statement piece. Although framing costs can be prohibitive for large scale prints, another stylish and even more cost effective option is to hang your art in vintage chart fashion.
This tutorial from Design Sponge demonstrates a straightforward way to do this with a DIY half frame. While this is a great way to hang any piece of art, it’s particularly well suited to vintage nature-themed and botanical prints. I’ve got plans to hang more Audubon art in my hall using this method. And with print shop pricing being so reasonable, I’m going LARGE.
Are you inspired to add some Audubon to your print collection? Do you have any other sources for great art to download for free? (I’ve still got those bare hall walls to deal with!)